Hateruma Island [波照間島]
Sea of Hateruma blue
Hateruma Island ("Haterumajima" in Japanese) is a small island located about 25 km south of Iriomote Island.
It is an oval island, and is about 6 km from east to west and about 3 km from north to south.
The island was formed by raised coral reefs.
So, it is a little hilly and there is no mountain.
The highest point is about 60 meters above sea level.
The sea around the island is beautiful and the color of the sea is called "Hateruma blue".
A small village is in the center of the island.
The population is less than 500.
The main industry of this island is sugar production, so the fields of sugarcane spread in the island.
This island is the Japan's southernmost place where the general people can reach.
(The southernmost place in Japan is Okinotorishima coral reef with two rocks about 1300 km east-southeast of Hateruma island.)
In addition, the stars can be observed in good condition in Hateruma Island.
The Southern Cross is seen from December to June.
Village in Hateruma Island
Fields of sugarcane in Hateruma Island
This island has only a small hotel and around a dozen minshuku.
When you stay in this island, you should make a reservation in advance.
No route bus and taxi is in this island.
To tour around this island, you should rent a bicycle or a motorbike.
By the way, there is Hateruma airport in the east side of the island but it has no flight.
From Ishigaki Island, high speed ship and ferry are operated.
But because the sea is very rough, about 20 percent of the services are cancelled every month and autumn and over 50 percent of services are cancelled in winter and stormy day.
In this island, there are some beautiful beaches and ruins in the period of Ryukyu Kindgom.
There is Hateruma port on the northwestern coast.
Nishihama beach (ニシ浜) is to the west of the port.
The beach is very beautiful.
The water is very clear, and the sands are very white.
Most tourists say that no beach is more beautiful than Nishihama.
Only Nishihama is allowed to swim in Hateruma Island.
There is Kôtomori (コート盛) about 0.7 km southeast of the port.
It is a ruin of lookout platform in the period of Ryukyu Kingdom.
It is thought that it was built in the 17th century.
It is at the entrance of the village and the height is about 4 meter.
Observers overlooked the passing ships on the platform, and they sent the information by bonfire from here.
There is Cape Takanazaki (高那崎) on the southeast edge of the island.
Steep rocky cliffs over 10 meters high are on the south coast around the cape.
A flatland spreads on the cliff, and there is Monument of the Japan's southernmost place.
This position is at 24°2′44″ north latitude, 123°47′18″ east longitude.
Most shops and minshuku in the island issue the certificate for visiting the Japan's southernmost place.
There is Astronomical Observatory Tower (星空観測タワー) near the monument.
It is a small astronomical observatory, and we can see the stars and the Southern Cross clearly by the astrometric telescope.
Observation tower of the stars
There is unique Pumuchi Beach (ペムチ浜, "Pemuchihama" in Japanese) on the center of the southern coast.
It is the southernmost beach in Japan.
The length of the beach is about 600 meters.
The left side of the beach is filled with the pieces of coral, but the right side is a normal sand beach.
On the sand beach, you can find some strange round stones formed by sand.
A family in this island has produced Awamori (Okinawa's distilled spirit) named "Awanami".
It is for the people in Hateruma island, so it is very difficult to get it in any other areas in Japan.
If you find it at any shop in Hateruma Island, you are very lucky.
Or, when you stay a minshuku, the host may serve it for you.
How to get here
By high-speed ship, about 1 hour 10 minutes from Ishigaki Port.